Girard business owners speak out following nearby building collapse
GIRARD, Ks. – On Friday, October 22nd, the backside of a building located in Girard’s city square collapsed and the recent heavy rains are believed to be the culprit.
But that collapse also forced the closure of one nearby Girard business and the relocation of another, and the owners say if the city had been more involved in keeping the structures in the square up to code, the collapse might have been avoided.
“I have owned a business in town for 36 years and I have for the last 13 years been actively been trying to do something with codes and with zoning. I have a lot of problems with the current building attached to me,” said Debbie Hobbs, owner of the Sheer Expressions salon.
“So we’ve asked them to come up with codes or different things that they can do so that people are held accountable for their building’s structure. Currently, we have never had anyone in the four years my boutique has been there come in and inspect us,” said Shelby Cannon, owner of the Pearls and Curls boutique.
But these business owners who are also mother and daughter say that Girard’s city square should be a point of civic pride, and that they’d like to see the city take a more proactive role in keeping its building in a habitable shape and encouraging more businesses to set up shop in the square.
“With dilapidation, it depletes revenue for our entire community, it gives people reasons not to come here because there’s empty buildings instead of ones full of retail or restaurants,” said Cannon.
But things could be changing for Girard’s city square. The business owners say that at the most recent city council meeting, they felt their concerns were heard and that the ball could get rolling on a new relationship between Girard City Hall and businesses on the square.
“(The city) suggested starting a downtown business organization which the city would be involved in. Our city attorney said that he would want to be involved in it to make sure things were done in a legal way, but we’re willing to work with them,” said Girard Mayor Mickey Pyle.
Mayor Pyle also says that the owner of the collapsed building told him that an engineer has been called out to find out what needs to be done to get the building up and running again. The mayor says he does not have a timeline for when that will be completed.
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